PowerPivot Compatibility across versions

There are several versions of PowerPivot available and starting with Excel 2013 there are also several versions of Excel. It is useful to look at the compatibility between the different versions of Excel and PowerPivot available now.

As a general rule when you have a PowerPivot workbook saved with a specific version of PowerPivot:

  • You can upgrade a workbook to a newer version of PowerPivot
  • You can upgrade a workbook to a newer version of Excel
  • You cannot open a workbook using a previous version of PowerPivot
  • You cannot open a workbook using a previous version of Excel, if it contains PowerPivot data

First caveat: you can open an Excel 2010 workbook containing a PowerPivot data model in Excel 2013, but once you save it in Excel 2013, you can no longer open it in Excel 2010. This is because a different file format for PowerPivot data used by Excel 2013 that cannot be understood by Excel 2010.

Second caveat: A file saved in Excel 2010 with PowerPivot 2012 (RTM or SP1) cannot be opened by an Excel 2010 running PowerPivot 2008 R2.

Each workbook has a compatibility level for PowerPivot data that corresponds to the PowerPivot version used to save the data. Here is the list of currently available compatibility levels:

  • 1050 (2008 R2)
  • 1100 (2012 RTM/SP1)
  • 1103 (Excel 2013)

The following table tells you what happens when you try to open an Excel 2010 file in a certain compatibility level (columns) with a certain version of PowerPivot (rows):




2008 R2


Not Supported

2012 RTM



2012 SP1



++ It is important to call out that it is *not* supported editing 1050 PowerPivot models in the 2012 release – you *have to* upgrade the model to 110x before you can edit/refresh the model.

A detailed list of errors you can have opening different a workbook with a different compatibility level than the current version of PowerPivot you have is available in the article Version compatibility between PowerPivot Data Models in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013. As the article mention, PowerPivot for SharePoint can open PowerPivot workbooks of previous compatibility levels, but in order to upgrade the data on the server (scheduling a data refresh) you need to upgrade the workbook to the newer format.

You have to be careful using PowerPivot in mixed environment, especially when you want to share an Excel file containing PowerPivot data. Once you refresh PowerPivot data, you need to upgrade the compatibility level if you opened the workbook with a newer version of PowerPivot, and once you do that, your colleague with a previous version of PowerPivot can no longer open the same workbook. Saving the file on SharePoint makes it possible to navigate into data, but you need a correspondent or newer version of PowerPivot on SharePoint than that used to save the file.

For these reasons, when we provide the examples for our PowerPivot Workshop and our book for Excel 2010, the sample files are saved with the older version of PowerPivot (2008 R2). Now that we are working on the Excel 2013 version of the book and of the workshop (soon to be available!), we are finally going to release samples using a newer version of Excel and PowerPivot.